It’s kind of fitting that on National Prime Rib Day I’m going to a wedding. 😛 A common misnomer about prime rib is that all the meat in each steak is USDA Prime, when in reality, “prime” rib is just a colloquial term that everyone uses (but doesn’t necessarily mean the best meat!) This is why you see lots of prime ribs served at catering events serving lots of people for not a lot of money: you get the assumption that your steak is top-notch when really we’re just calling it that. It’s why the standing rib roast (its official name) gets such a bad reputation and is usually relegated only to mediocre catering events; most steakhouses won’t put a prime rib on their menu because of it. The famous Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn doesn’t have one, though they are arguably the kings of steak in New York City, if not the entire country.
Keens Steak House in Midtown, however, not only is brave enough to put Prime Rib on their menu and still call themselves a respectable steakhouse, they put it there twice–and make damn sure the quality is up to Keens-level snuff. They serve both a King Cut Prime Rib on their dinner menu and a Prime Rib Hash with poached eggs for lunch, two dishes that you don’t ever expect to see at such a high-end establishment. But Keens is known for reclaiming the bad reputations of cuts of meat: they’re the kings of mutton in New York, a thick, difficult piece of lamb that they’ve roasted to perfection and elevated far beyond its humble beginnings. They’ve done the same for the prime rib, serving an almost ridiculously large portion that’s tender, juicy, and absolutely perfect. It changes the way you think about prime rib, as some bland, gray piece of meat steaming away in a chafing dish. And Keens’ steak has won over tons of critics on paper and on screen, having features on both Food Paradise and America’s Best for their classic style steaks, and one of my favorites, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, where he lamented for an entire episode about the disappearing grandeur of the old Manhattan restaurant, and heads to Keens for a taste of the good ol’ days.
They also take their unused prime rib from the previous dinner, blend it with potatoes and spices to make a hash, and serve it with poached eggs on their lunch menu. The expertise of their cooking is still evident in this dish, cooking the hash perfectly until it’s seconds from being burned, but seared just enough to lock in that flavor. The runny poached egg fits so well with the hash, making for a rich, eggy sauce running all over the plate. I’ve already had a hearty breakfast today, but thinking about this meal makes me want it all over again!
I may be having a catering-grade prime rib today, but I’ll be dreaming of Keens Steak House’s King Cut Prime Rib the whole time!
Keens Steak House
72 W 36th St (between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
“Keens expertly dry-ages its beef, which it serves in an array of cuts, all of them memorable and almost all of them mammoth: sirloin, filet mignon, prime rib, porterhouse for two, porterhouse for three. On my visits the restaurant put a nice char on any and every cut that was supposed to have it, and it cooked everything to its requested temperature. It proved itself to be not only one of the city’s most charming and diverting theaters for testosterone cuisine but also one of its most reliable.”–The New York Times
“Keen’s Steakhouse, though slightly younger than the Homestead, is probably my favorite steakhouse in the country. That’s right, even better than Peter Luger’s (which doesn’t serve prime rib anyway). Also Keen’s offers a so-called “mutton chop,” which is actually a spectacular saddle of lamb. But the prime rib at Keen’s is a different animal from the other prime ribs. It is Platonic. Heavenly. Rendering other prime ribs mere shadows of the one true original, bloody, fantastic prime rib at Keen’s. It is the prime rib that has haunted my dreams for years. Try it. Now, I can die peacefully.”–The Daily Meal
“At the bar, a plate of prime rib hash comes with a fried egg on top, and when you wash it down with a dark beer from the tap or sip one of more than 100 Scotches under a nude portrait of a raven-haired beauty Schwarz has named “Miss Keens,” there is a transcendental moment—the moment Schwarz’s heroic efforts have earned, all the more moving for their total invisibility.”–Edible Manhattan
“Equal parts prime rib and potatoes mixed into a hash and fried until the exterior, all of it, turns a deep golden brown. It is just seconds from reaching burnt, hitting your table extra crisp. A fried egg and a sprinkle of chives to finish. Cut in with confidence—steam erupts, carrying the saliva-inducing scent of savory steak, potatoes, and just enough onions with it. Puncture the yolk and let it drip, soaking into every crevice. Ketchup is offered on the side, but a few shakes of pepper will suffice.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“On to dinner, my first time here I decided to go with the Kings Cut Prime Rib… it was possibly the best $52.00 I’ve ever spent. It wasn’t just huge, it was possibly the biggest slab of prime I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to Texas)! It almost literally melted in my mouth, doused in au jus and dipped in horseradish cream sauce, it was as close to perfection as I could have asked for. I got it rare, and boy, was it perfectly rare!”–Myke F.
“First thing that struck me was that the portion of the meat was tremendous. My prime rib was definitely a flintstones portion and perfectly cooked. I took a first bite, and I almost died and went to heaven. The meat melted in my mouth and was so perfect, I couldn’t believe.”–Diane C.
“We wanted a classic meat experience. We started with a primo martini for my wife, and a choice of several 18 year old scotches for me. Next was lobster bisque and tomato basil soup. The prime rib was like “buttah”. You cold feel the history and the tradition seep through the walls in a classic wood grained and smoking pipe decor. Just what we were looking for.”–Fred B.
“We also tried the Prime Rib Hash and a side of creamed spinach. The Prime Rib Hash was pretty decadent. The fried egg on top mixed with the prime rib was delicious.”–Marina C.
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